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The best Christmas gifts for your farm family

TAGS: Farm Life
male farmer holding son in field
Home Front: Some of the best gifts you can give each other — and pass down — don’t change much over time.

Even though farmers could work during the crazy time after the pandemic hit our nation, our lives were disrupted just like those whose work was deemed “nonessential.” During the quarantine, one of the things I missed was spending time with our kids and grandkids. We have three married sons, and we’ve been blessed with 11 grandchildren. During the months of social distancing, we missed more than one traditional opportunity to connect.

None of our sons live in Illinois. One lives in Indiana, about 2½ hours away. Another son and his family live in Iowa — not as close as I’d like, but not as far away as they could be. The third family lives in western New York. That son gets the prize for living the farthest from the farm where he grew up.

Sending a gift and card, calling and singing “Happy Birthday” … we did all those things, but they weren’t the same as seeing the birthday girl or boy and giving that child a big hug. It’s easier to encourage someone of any age in person, but that wasn’t possible.

I once heard it said it’s a parent’s responsibility to give their kids roots and wings. Recently Kendra found an article she’s kept on file since it was published in 2008. It is titled “What it takes to be a good parent in today’s culture,” and it offers helpful hints for developing roots and wings.

Some might argue today’s culture is nothing like it was in 2008. I understand there are differences, but I was convinced that many of the points were still relevant, courtesy of author Dr. Val Farmer.

Here’s a look at his points:

  • Know your values and pass them on.
  • Teach your children to show kindness and appreciation.
  • Teach them to respect authority.
  • Be a good example.
  • Accept and respect each child as an individual.
  • Be consistent, firm and fair with discipline.
  • Help them develop a joy of reading and learning.
  • Minimize conflict and criticism within the family.
  • Have fun in the family.
  • Help them develop their talents and abilities.
  • Have family meals together.

And one final point made by Dr. Farmer: The best parenting comes as a byproduct of a marriage where the husband and wife truly love each other and show that love in daily living.

Or more concisely, “Do Your Kids a Favor … Love Your Spouse,” which also happens to be the title of a book Kendra and I wrote that same year. 

John and Kendra Smiley farm near East Lynn, Ill. Email, or visit The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

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